ISLAMABAD: The Board of Investment (BOI) on Thursday unveiled an Investment Promotion Strategy for the next three years – 2020 to 2023 – setting foreign direct investment (FDI) target of $4 billion for 2020-21, $4.5bn for 2021-22, and $5bn for 2022-23.

The strategy was launched at a seminar organized by the board in collaboration with the World Bank, International Finance Corporation and the Commonwealth office of the United Kingdom.

In addition, the board also launched the Sixth Ease of Doing Business Reform Action Plan on the occasion.

As part of the strategy, the BOI aims to generate minimum 50 new leads tracked from the board’s newly introduced Investment Relation Management System (IRMS).It is anticipated that at least ten leads will fetch investment to the tune of $200 million during the next year.

In the new strategy, for the first time, priority sectors have been selected through a well-structured sector scanning process. The sectors selected include food and beverages, auto and auto parts, information technology and IT-enabled services, logistics and value-added textiles.

These sectors were selected on multi-dimensional criteria: comparative and competitive advantage, employment generation capability, import substitution, export potential, global outward FDI trends and the success of IPAs in those sectors.

The investment promotion strategy provides a comprehensive investment cycle consisting of policy advocacy, market research, investment facilitation, promotion and protection and after-care services.

It creates internal systems like the IRMS -- an investment information system and a system for monitoring and evaluation.

Speaking on the occasion, BOI Secretary Fareena Mazhar said investment promotion strategy focuses on proactively engaging investors in priority sectors and ensuring that the board supports and facilitates investors.

Supporting existing investors to solve regulatory and other issues is also a key part of the board’s commitment to serve investors in the country, she added.

Moreover, Sindh Investment Department Director Qurat-ul-Ainsaid the provincial government was very keen to improve business environment in the province and informed that Sindh Doing Business Reforms Council had already been actively working in this regard.

She also informed the meeting that a dedicated Doing Business Reforms Implementation Unit was coordinating with all government functionaries, private sector organisations and other stakeholders so that anyone who wants to start or run a business in Sindh can easily get licenses, permits and other relevant permissions.

Punjab’s Planning and Development Secretary Imran Sikandar Baloch said the provincial government was striving hard to implement comprehensive reform agenda. Obtaining a building permit has been simplifi ed through electronic submission of applications and integration of WASA, TEPA with the Lahore Development Authority (LDA).

Meanwhile, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Najy Benhassine appreciated the efforts taken by the federal, Punjab and Sindh governments and said that reform process needs a lot of efforts on the behalf of public sector.

Improvement in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in Pakistan is a result of collective and coordinated efforts by the federal and provincial governments over the last few years. This momentum needs to be sustained in the coming years for Pakistan to continue to make progress, he said.

Moreover, IFC’s Principal Country Officer Shabana Khawar said the investment strategy owing to Covid-19 is a very timely process.

Both the World Bank and IFC assured to continue their cooperation with BOI and provincial governments with an objective to improve investment climate in the country.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2020